Regina Saphier TED Global 2013 Day 1

Natasha Bedingfield

 

I am as usual in Hungary, more specifically in Budapest, and watching TED Global 2013 plus live blogging about it. Meanwhile in my district in Buda we have major flooding along the Danube, we also had several powerful storms like the one yesterday, we had two earthquakes during the last two months between 4.2 and 4.8, and Hungary is struggling economically (also in social terms and professionals are leaving by the thousands to find jobs abroad). My life too was full of hardship for the last few years. TED conferences gave me perspective, hope and intellectual resources. It was at a TED conference last year that I discovered Coursera and started another blog about it. Next year I am probably going to phase out my TED live conference blog after we celebrate 30 years of TED in 2014, and I am going to focus more on Coursera. I am still thinking about the future of my blogging… Let me know if you would like me to continue both blogs. By now I have solid experience in global blogging in English (as opposed to more limited local blogging in Hungarian) and I am thinking about new blog topics…

Coursera was anyway what I was really looking for in the first place when I stumbled upon TED many years ago… I had something to watch until Coursera finally manifested itself… Thank you Richard! Thank you Chris! Thank you TED speakers!

Lets see what is happening at TED Global this year. These are Edinburgh, Scotland times below, please look up your own local time relative to the program.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

11:00 – 12:45pm Session 1: Moments of Truth

Generally I detest when politicians speak at TED. Still, this appeared to be a humble talk about democracy in crisis internationally. There was even some review of democracy’s history. Papandreou envisions the EU as a citizens’ “Agora”. Give immigrants a European citizenship, he says. Lets not be “Idiots” standing on our own, lets examine our issues together.

Talked about the sustainability strategy of IKEA and other major corporations.

He asked during his passionate talk: Why shouldn’t we all have a Serengeti on our doorsteps? Well, I am thinking: I am ok with the lions in Africa… And yes, whales are important for the existence of planktons… not only the other way round… but as the speaker himself pointed out: who are we to decide what kinds of animals get to live in our neighborhoods… Why would I want to let him decide?

From a land where driving a car by a woman is punished by direct harassment to her family… It happened to her, she was sent to jail, therefore she became an activist for the right to drive. Saudi Arabia was the last place where women could not drive and were punished for even attempting to drive once. It turns our, there was no law, this was some unwritten custom. There was her land and there was the rest of the world. She succeeded because others joined her protest and women are now driving in Saudi Arabia.

Saying no to the old school feminist narrative of putting your job first. Bread-winning and care-giving are equally important and governments should invest in both like Sweden and Norway does. Make care-giving cool for men. She is basically talking about humanizing society, accepting differences, and let people be who they want to be, the way they want to live. Finally she pointed out that she grew up in a time when her parents were smoking, and when racial segregation was the norm. She pointed out that change is happening, but how fast, that depends on us.

2:15 – 4:00pm Session 2: Those Flying Things

Amazing demo of drones in flight indoors. Balancing a glass of water in the air by a drone? No problem.

Explaining the flexibility of conservation drones. Low cost tools to survey huge areas.

Using drones in logistics. Getting supplies, like medication to areas that are unreachable on roads. The cost is low, the speed is high. The beginning of a new paradigm in transportation? (Get your sushi by a drone in no time and make all delivery people jobless…hmm…? I always have this dilemma…) Engage in social fiction to make it happen: lift people out of poverty… (but do it so that you do not push others into poverty).

Weaponized drones are still controlled by humans but human control for them to work as tools of killing: no longer a technical requirement. Autonomous operation is part of them. The capability is there already. Drones today are able to make the decision to kill a human on their own! Is this the future we want? Robots killing people? Pushing responsibility away from humans…? Anonymous war? Will you know your enemy? How can you protect yourself from such faceless attackers hiding behind robotic weapons…? Advanced nations are data driven and opinion leaders are easily identified by their data and social network usage. Easy targets. This could suffocate free speech. We need a treaty on robotic weapons. No robot privacy in public places!

3D panorama imaging demonstrated by one of my favorite TED speakers, Blaise (such a nice man). As you walk your camera takes photos and stitches them into a flow of images.

Looking at  the forest and landscapes with bio sensors from the air. Greg shows us how he is able to deeply analyze the forest with his spectrometer, showing the biodiversity, living and dead trees, their growth rate, the impact of animals and human activity (like illegal gold-mining). Brilliant technology.

5:00 – 6:45pm Session 3: Exquisite Enigmatic Us

Sleep is vital! The quality of your sleep impacts your mental health.

Our minds are able to mislead us when it comes to memories. Memories can even be artificially planted into human minds.

Mixing culture, language and media heroes.

Speaking to us about the brain’s thermostat when it comes to weight gain or weight loss. It feels like Sandra experienced a lot of trauma and her anxiety level is very high to tolerate the stress of the TED stage. Remember, have compassion, do not judge, rather ask: What happened to her? And in her TED talk she talks about that… I feel how she is struggling. It took her a lot of courage to go on stage and speak about eating, culture, mind, body and anxiety.

Excellent speaker, just like Jane, her twin sister, who is now a regular TED speaker. Still, I am not entirely convinced Kelly… I think all this sounded way too idealistic: you now believe (after believing the opposite for 10 years) that stress is making us stronger… you are less likely to pass away from stress related causes and are more likely to become successful at the task that is stressful, if you think stress helps you do what you do. Why am I not convinced?

Kelly McGonigal

She told us, if you believe stress is bad for you, your blood vessels contract during stressful events, while if you believe that stress is good for you, your blood vessels relax. This could be, yes, but what if you were traumatized in the past, and no matter what you think, your blood vessels just keep contracting due to neurological or genetic damage? Also, she stated that while financial stress raises your risk factor by some 30%, taking care of someone removes that risk… due to the wonderful impact of a famous stress hormone: oxytocin. This contradicts Christakis’s findings regarding care taking, networks and stress (often killing the caretaker and stressing out friends and family in your network), and also contradicts the Columbia U. research regarding higher status and stress… the higher your status the better you handle stress… So, this new finding of yours needs more examination, perhaps another 10 years.

Still, I am sure what you think of stress and what your attitude is like, that does impact your body via your mind, definitely.

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